ASUC Senate committee nominates attorney general

Aslesha Kumar/Staff
Natalja Karniouchina speaks to the committee, which later nominated her to the position of attorney general.

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On Monday, the ASUC Senate’s constitutional review committee unanimously agreed to nominate current ASUC Solicitor General Natalja Karniouchina to serve as ASUC attorney general, more than four months after the position was supposed to be filled.

The position was supposed to be filled last spring by the 2013-14 senate class, but it was not, due to concerns about the experience of the candidates at the time. This year’s senate class extended the term of the previous attorney general, Kevin Sabo, to allow for more time and deliberation in the appointment.

The committee ultimately narrowed down their deliberations to Karniouchina and 2013-14 solicitor general Alex Mabanta for their experience in the office and institutional knowledge.

The attorney general is a nonpartisan position that works with the ASUC Senate to ensure compliance of rules and bylaws as outlined in the ASUC Constitution.

In September, the senate passed a bill to suspend the bylaw that would have caused a shutdown in student-group funding in response to the delay in appointment. This bill also ordered the solicitor general to maintain the operations of the office of the attorney general in the interim period.

The solicitor general acts as the attorney general’s deputy in most cases, helping provide legal counsel and advising on policy.

Karniouchina said she looks forward to working with the senate and executives to be inclusive and to help the committee “think long term as well as short term” for matters regarding bills and bylaws. Karniouchina needs a two-thirds vote of approval from the senate to be officially appointed to the position.

If confirmed to the attorney general position, she believes the solicitor general position should not be vacant for long and said she already has two people in mind to recommend to the position, one of whom is her current chief of staff, Ruby Ghastin.

A main concern during deliberations was that the attorney general, who attends all constitutional review committee meetings, should not “take up too much space” during meetings, said Briana Mullen, the chief of staff for the ASUC Executive Vice President and a former ASUC senator.

Mullen advised the committee to keep the attorney general accountable. She also expressed regret that one of the candidates, a graduate student, was unable to continue with the nomination process, because more graduate representation is needed.

Bo Nguyen, committee chair and Student Action senator, said the committee focused on who could fulfill the three main pillars of responsibility of the attorney general — providing legal counsel, making sure elections are fair and maintaining nonpartisanship.

“Both applicants were very qualified and had great work experience. We could see both fulfilling the three pillars,” Nguyen said. “It came down to deliberating on minutiae factors and who we could best foster a working relationship with.”

The nomination will be presented at the senate meeting this week. The senate will wait a full week until a final vote on the nomination to allow for public comment.

Heyun Jeong covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @heyunjeong.